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NEWS AND NOTES FROM PRESS ROW : Valley Christian boys basketball gives Warren a challenge before fading in fourth quarter

 

By Loren Kopff

@LorenKopff on Twitter

 

DOWNEY-The Valley Christian High boys basketball team walked into Warren High’s gym with a lot of confidence prior to last Friday night’s CIF-Southern Section Division 3AA first round game. Afterall, the Defenders, who suited eight players, had nothing to lose following a rocky regular season that was unsure until they defeated Village Christian High in a play-in game to determine third place in the Olympic League.

V.C. came to play against the Bears and led the division’s 14thseeded team by four points early in the second half before the Bears went on a 32-16 run to end the game and post a 61-46 victory. The Defenders, who won six of their last seven games of the regular season, ends with a 16-13 record.

“We played six guys tonight and we just ran out of gas,” said V.C. first-year head coach Josh Beaty. “When you slow it down a little bit and limit possessions, you have to be perfect. That run they had there at the end, it’s just hard to make up for that.”

The first quarter featured a pair of long runs with V.C. scoring eight straight points before the Bears countered with a 12-0 run to lead 15-8 with 2:25 left in the opening quarter. That was followed by another 8-0 run by V.C. and when freshman Nathan Medina drilled a buzzer-beating three-pointer to end the half, the Defenders had tied Warren 23-23. At that point, the raucous V.C. crowd began to chant ‘he’s a freshman’. There were four lead changes in the second quarter and V.C. would carry that momentum into the second half when sophomore Luca Caldarella scored back to back baskets off passes from junior Malvin Payero within the first 50 seconds.

Later in the stanza, Payero would hit three of four free throws as the Defenders would lead 30-29 at the 4:17 mark. But after that, V.C. would not score consecutive points and the Bears would go on their long run.

“Our guys showed incredible competitiveness and great toughness,” Beaty said. “I really couldn’t ask more from them.”

Medina led the Defenders with 15 points while Payero added 10 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. V.C. spent most of the season hovering around the .500 mark, but at one point, was 1-4 in league competition. They would knock off Village Christian 64-60 in overtime on the road on Jan. 22, then defeated the Crusaders on the road again on Feb. 1 grab third place and the automatic playoff berth. The Defenders, who were in a rebuilding mode this season, lose just one senior, Christian Bozanic.

“They showed incredible character,” Beaty said. “We should not have made the playoffs, and because of their character and competitiveness, winning that game at Village is a huge accomplishment for this team and this program.”

In other boys basketball playoff action, Artesia High fell to Sunny Hills High 55-53 in overtime last Friday night in a Division 3A first round game. The Pioneers, who finished in second place in the 605 League, end their season at 18-11.

Cerritos High, which ended the regular season with seven straight wins and won the 605 League, stunned eighth seeded Paraclete High 71-67 last Friday. But this past Tuesday, the Dons fell to Schurr High 68-51 to see their season conclude at 17-12.

Gahr High, winners of three of its last five games of the regular season to finish in a three-way tie for second place in the San Gabriel Valley League, fell to La Mirada High 67-63 in overtime last Friday in a Division 2A first round game. The Gladiators end their season at 16-13.

GIRLS BASKETBALL

Norwalk High, the second place finishers in the Suburban League, dropped a 54-51 affair to Hillcrest High last Thursday in a Division 4A first round game. The Lady Lancers end their season at 14-12.

BOYS SOCCER

Three area league champions who were ranked in the top four in their respective divisions were all upset before reaching the quarterfinals. Artesia, the fourth ranked team in Division 3 and champions of the 605 League, was knocked off by Dos Pueblos High 1-0 last Saturday in the second round. It was the first time that the Pioneers (18-2-3) had lost since Dec. 4. Since then, the Pioneers had won 15 out of 18 games.

In Division 3 action, third ranked Norwalk (18-1-3) dropped a 2-1 decision to Eastside High last Saturday in the second round. Norwalk, winners of the Suburban League, gave up three goals in two playoff games after allowing three goals in the previous 10 games combined.

V.C., the champions of the Olympic League and ranked third in Division 6, lost to Sage Hill High 3-2 last Thursday in a first round game. The Olympic League champions, who had allowed four goals in eight league games, finish at 13-4-2.

 

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